A small ant problem, not a small aunt problem


On the weekend I took the near-blasphemous step of breaking out the patio furniture; it had been lovingly stacked at the side of the house last fall and covered in tarps and bound with bungee cords, sort of like that body under the leafy mound at the back of the lot.

The cushions are in the patio bin, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice, although the truth is we don’t expect them to be in use anytime soon. But there is a comfort in knowing that if I wanted to sit out there, I could.

More likely is me getting a photo of the patio furniture covered in snow. I’m not ruling that out, either.

So firm has spring’s grip grabbed our neighbourhood that even my spouse took to barbequing yesterday afternoon for the boys, solo, informing me when I got home that I would be wanting to deal with a small ant problem on the patio right away. Not to be confused with a small aunt problem, which may or may not be under a small leafy mound at the back of the lot.

The ants were a figurative and literal problem. Continue reading

Boys will be boys. Or lads.


It was a long day for the Greenbriar Amateur Athletic Club yesterday, but it sure was fun. Well, the back end of the day was fun.

Without question, the highlight was the arrival of the rugby team from Trinity Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia. We have Nick and Sam staying with us and all I can say is that their school and country could not have two better ambassadors.

First, though, I am left to wonder why we call them the lads. I guess it’s because they are rugby players from down under? From the instant they arrived, Laura referred to them in a text as lads, and that seemed 100 per cent what I expected. Whatever, they are not the boys or the guys, they are the lads. Unlike our Finnish guests of several winters ago, they speak English (duh) and with not as much Aussie accent as you might suspect.

They are unflinchingly polite and well-mannered and both have terrific senses of humour and they picked up NHL14 on PS3 with very quickly. I didn’t get home from work until about 730p last night and the lads and our boys were all in the basement watching the NHL playoffs. They seem to enjoy hockey – men with sticks on ice hitting one another – and were anxious to see a fight. Continue reading

I, for one, would like to welcome our new rugby overlords


A rare double-post day, but since the rep hockey FAQ thing is really a repost — my greatest hits, if you will — I am going to add a couple of short things in a separate file.

If you’re unhappy about this, I’m sure the international league of community bloggers will be happy to take up your case.

So, let’s start with hockey, just to be different.

I was walking up Bay Street yesterday and I passed Brendan Shanahan, who was walking down Bay Street. I literally did a double take because I wasn’t sure it was him but I made note of what he was wearing and sure enough, there he was on my TV a couple hours later in a grey suit and dark tie. Continue reading

Rep tryouts: How do you make a rep hockey team?

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Rep hockey tryouts started last night.

So I am going to repeat a lightly edited version of what is easily the most popular post I have ever written: the FAQ on rep hockey try outs. This is version three of this over the years, and it really is just a cut-and-paste job but it is a worthy one. There is also a brief 2014 addendum at the very bottom worth reading, I think.

Literally hundreds and hundreds of people find this particular post every month so welcome, and here’s a little about us. Happy suburban Toronto family, two boys. One was a house leaguer (1996) the other (a 1993) relentlessly chased the dream to always try to get to a higher level.

Starting in rep at major peewee, Pad played AE, A, AA (in Oakville) and AAA (in the GTHL), then 200 games of junior A in the OJHL and the BCHL and a very brief stop in the CCHL. Next fall he will be playing university hockey.

What follows is some of what I/we have learned along the way. (Ironically, Pad, who never made a AAA team in Oakville, is now running some on-ice AAA tryouts for the local association. Smart move on their part.)

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How do you make a rep hockey team? Continue reading

Master of the TV


I spent far too much of Sunday in anticipation of events on my television. It’s no way to spend a day and I was not well rewarded for my effort.

The first big event was The Masters. Even without Tiger and Phil on Sunday, it is still must-see viewing for me on the annual calendar. The images are familiar; we all know well where the demons lie in wait on Sunday.

The TV commentators tried mightily but Bubba Watson’s second win in three years was not terribly interesting or compelling. I mean that with great respect. He went out and did what he had to do and basically buried the guy who would have been the best story of the day, 20-year-old Jason Spieth.

Except the rookie faltered, if only slightly, and that was all it took. The momentum swung to Watson on the 8th hole. When the rookie hit it into the creek on 12, it was over. And there was still a block of 90 minutes of viewing left.

That’s a long time to wish something would happen. But nothing did. Continue reading

Ghouls just want to have fun


I knew that living in southern Ontario was going to be a problem. It was always just a question of when, not it.

I guess that’s still the case. But World War Z is coming.

A University of Alberta engineering grad/blogger devoted two full hours to studying which Canadian cities were least likely to survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse. And the bad news is, southern Ontario is pretty much ideal turf for the next season of The Walking Dead.

The blogger developed his own criteria for determining the risk/prevention factors. Proximity to a military base, average temperature (cold is better for surviving), population density, obsesity rates, physical activity, and gun ownership.

And when you crunch the data, southern Ontario looks like a lobster on the bib to your garden-variety undead church basement buffet. Continue reading

Exit, stage right


I don’t normally take much note of the doings on network television, but the announcement last week that David Letterman is going to pack it in caused me to pause.

Dave and I go way back.

Back in the early and mid 1980s when he was just getting his NBC show Late Night off the ground, I was a loyal viewer. Part of my work back then involved working on what was called the night desk at the Halifax newspaper, although it was really an evening desk. Report for work around 3p, leave before 11p most nights.

Go out for a beer, or just go home and watch some TV that I had recorded on the VCR. And many nights, stay up late to watch Dave – which in Halifax meant it started at 130a. Usually I taped it, too.

Letterman revolutionized the TV talk show. He idolized Johnny Carson but Letterman’s version of the desk and couch appealed to a new generation of TV viewers and you had to have a fairly edgy sense of humour and an open mind to keep up. Continue reading

Spring. Finally.


The snow is all but gone, at least on my street. Neighbours optimistically ventured into daylight on the weekend with rakes in hand and purposeful deeds on the agenda.

Dare we say the Winter of 2013-14, which chronologically expired last month, is now truly history?

I think so, especially since the weather forecast for the next week is boldly predicting not a single negative number.

Having said that, let me add that I was among the brave souls doing outdoor stuff this weekend and I discovered the reminders of winter will not pass quietly.

Continue reading

The pursuit of higher education (finally)


About this time three years ago, our elder son and his friends and classmates were in the stretch run of their secondary schooling.

Facebook posts from parents as well as emails and phone calls regularly trumpeted the good news as one kid after another was accepted to this school or that, or selected a career path at some school, or whatever.

Many of you are well familiar with Pad’s story – he deferred higher education so he could play junior hockey, a decision that caused his mother to stare at the ceiling late into many a night. It was all too uncertain for her taste but she found comfort for a time in having him go through the motions of applying to schools – U of T, York, Ryerson, Guelph-Humber, etc.

That comfort was short lived when they not only accepted her first born but also offered scholarships that he had no intention of accepting. That just made her nuts. As is the tradition at grad, the principal announced each student’s plans for the coming fall as they accepted their diploma. A teammate of Pad’s said it all: “Attending the University of the Oakville Blades.” Good times. More on Pad in a minute.

Right now, Chris is where his older brother was three years ago. Continue reading

The Leafs win & bully for us


I have deliberately not bothered commenting on the Leafs much this season. There are many, better sources for informed opinion on our local NHL heroes and frankly, for all but the last nine games or so they had proven themselves to be a largely respectable team and I needed not mock them.

Not world beaters or a team on the cusp of a championship, mind you. But a team moving in the right direction and certainly a playoff team.

Well, if you follow hockey in Toronto then you are well informed about the bodies lining the downtown streets of folks jumping off the bandwagon during the recent eight-game losing streak.

Sometimes when a team hits a rough spot you can say, it looks worse that than it is. In the case of the Leafs, it was actually worse than it looked, if that`s possible. Continue reading

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